On Love, Fate, and Living in the Moment

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“It is written.” That’s the last line of the movie from India called Slumdog Millionaire. It’s a gripping and often shocking story of how fate unfolds along what seem to be universal laws. One of them is how much your destiny depends on your desire—be it love, money, or something else. The other is that love is the happier destiny.

I like to believe it was destiny that had had a hand in the return of the Prince (my younger boyfriend) after a recent breakup. But destiny is never that linear. First it had to teach me two important lessons about the thing I have always desired: love.

Lesson number one concerns a memory from six years ago. I was at a bar with friends, being held captive by the ebullient ravings of Jennifer. Jennifer is a slinky blonde with a flirtatious nature that could only be described as omnivorous (bisexual) and gluttonous. She had just returned from some Miracle-of-Love type of workshop and was splattering the crowd with platitudes and clichés. I rolled my eyes with boredom, causing Jennifer to lunge at me with a raised, admonishing finger. “You either live in love or fear,” she said warningly. “Love cannot exist where there is fear.” I smelled the gin and tonic on her breath and pushed her away.

Still, the line kept coming back to me. I didn’t know what it meant but I felt I should, as though I needed to understand it.

Then the next lesson came. My friend and co-author, Chris Heward, got diagnosed with cancer at age fifty-nine. He was a scientist who studied anti-aging medicine. He knew everything and then he was dead after a few horrible months.

I sat there one day recently reflecting on all this, trapped in what could only be described as a convergence of clichés. The come and gone nature of life. The fear or love nature of mind. How we only have the moment. How you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

I got to seeing how afraid I had been of loss, failure, and rejection. I had defended myself so hard against my fears that I wound up inviting them back into my life and even giving them their own rooms.

I thought, too, about an allegorical book I had read years ago by the surrealist, René Daumal. It’s called Mount Analogue and it’s sort of about mountain climbing (which is sort of like saying Plato’s Republic is about two guys talking). It asks, why does anyone go to the trouble of climbing a mountain when they have to turn around and come down again? The answer, as I understand it, is because they never forget the view.

I saw myself standing at the base of the mountain always looking up, always asking, what if I can’t make it? What if I fall and hurt myself? What if I get lost and run out of food? Where will I sleep? What if they don’t have toilet paper?

I saw how I had settled for the drive-through McDonald’s life instead. Always waiting in line for the white bag of junk food to come through my car window. Always sitting in my car, tightly strapped into the seat, doors locked, munching away on food that always tasted the same.

That’s when it dawned on me. Maybe endless repetition gives you the illusion that nothing changes or that you have some measure of control, but is that any way to live? I was so unhappy.

No more of the McDonald’s life for me, I said to myself. No more “what ifs.” From here on in, I promised myself, it’s saying “yes” to what brings love into life. I will rule my life as the Queen of Hearts I truly am.

I get so dramatic but it works for me. I picked up the phone and called the Prince. We’ve been happy ever since. It’s no exaggeration to say that “yes” changes everything. For one thing, I don’t think of him as the Prince anymore. Now he’s the King. I call him “K” for short.


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